Suicide in Iran spotlights economic distress

Tehran, Iran (AP) — 38-year-old Ruhollah Khomejde, with a thick mustache and gray-spotted hair, was desperate for work. The three fathers in southern Iran went to the Foundation’s regional offices to support veterans and their families and sought help.

Local media reported that Parajide had told officials that they would throw themselves off their roofs if they couldn’t help. They promised a small loan and tried to reason with him, but he wasn’t happy.

He immediately returned to the gates of the building, poured gasoline over him and placed a lit match on his neck. He died of burns on October 21, two days later.

Parajide’s suicide in Yasuj shocked many in Iran. He was the son of Gormohammad Parajide, a prominent local hero of the 1980-88 Iraq War, not because hundreds of thousands died.

It is because Iran’s economy has sunk, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed, Food Sky Rocket Price.

His death occurred outside the regional offices of the Martyrs and War Disability Foundation, a wealthy and powerful government agency that supports the families of those killed in Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and subsequent wars. bottom.

“I was shocked to hear the news,” said Mina Ahmadhi, a student at Beheshti University in northern Tehran. “I thought the families of the victims (of the war) enjoyed generous support from the government.”

Iran evaluates the dead in a conflict with Iraq, known in Tehran as “holy defense,” in which the Foundation plays a major role. After the revolution introduced a system run by priests, the Foundation began offering pensions, loans, housing, education, and even some high-ranking government jobs.

According to local media, after Parajide’s suicide, the Foundation dismissed two of the state’s top executives, demanded the dismissal of the governor’s veterans and social workers, and did not send the suffering man to medical facilities. Blame. ..

Fallout has reached the highest level of government. Ayatollah Sharfeddin Malakhosseini, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned that authorities should “remove unemployment, poverty and disruption of social ties.”

In 2014, Congress began investigating one of the major banks affiliated with the Foundation, which allegedly embezzled $ 5 million. The discovery was never revealed.

The foundation is known for injecting financial support into Islamic extremist groups in the region, from Hezbollah in Lebanon to Hamas in Gaza, and the United States sanctioned it in 2007 to support terrorism. ..

Parajide’s suicide was one of several in recent years that appeared to have been caused by financial hardship.

Self-immolation has recently killed at least two other veterans and injured the wives of disabled veterans outside the Foundation’s branches in Tehran, Kermanshah and Kom.

Suicide in Iran increased by more than 4% as the coronavirus pandemic caused economic turmoil, according to a government survey quoted by the reformist daily Etemad.

For many in the Middle East, the act of self-immolation, the protest that triggered the 2011 Arab Spring uprising by the fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia, has sparked widespread dissatisfaction with financial hardship and lack of opportunity. increase.

“I don’t know where we’re heading because of poverty,” said Reza Hashemi, a literary teacher at Tehran High School.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from a groundbreaking nuclear deal with Tehran’s world powers, regained sanctions on Iran, and hit an oil-dependent economy that was already plagued by inefficiencies. Did.The pandemic Exacerbated financial despair.. About 1 million Iranians have lost their jobs and the unemployment rate has exceeded 10%. This is almost double the rate among young people.

Capital flight surged to $ 30 billion, driving foreign investors away.

Five months after the inauguration of hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, negotiations to revive the atomic agreement were stalled and Tehran was able to promote its nuclear program. The European Union announced on Wednesday that talks between world powers and Iran on the revival of the agreement will resume in Vienna on 29 November. The announcement aroused a modest hope that the Biden administration could revive the agreement.

“It’s impossible to hide people’s dissatisfaction with the economy,” said Mohamad Qasem Osmani, a staff member of the government’s oversight agency, Audit Organization Services. “The structure of the country is imperfect and sick. An economic revolution is needed.”

The Iranian rial, Real, has shrunk to less than 50% of its value since 2018. Wages have not increased to make up for the losses, and the Ministry of Labor has reported that more than one-third of the population is in extreme poverty.

“Approximately 40 million people in the country need immediate and immediate help,” said Hamid Reza Hibabay, chairman of the Parliamentary Budget Committee, in a television debate last week, to nearly half of the population. Mentioned.

Increasing poverty is more than just a number, it is a visible part of everyday life. On the streets of Tehran, more and more people are looking for trash in search of something to sell. Children sell jewelry and tissues. PanHandler seeks change at most intersections — a rare sight 10 years ago.

The number of trivial thefts has skyrocketed and we are already testing a strict judicial system. Last week, a Tehran court sentenced a 45-year-old father and 40 eyelashes to 3-10 months in prison for pocketing a few packs of peanuts.

General Ali Reza Rotofi, Tehran’s police chief, blamed the economy for the surge in crime, noting that more than half of all detainees last year were the first offenders.

Dealing with economic pressure has fallen to Raisi. He frequently repeats his campaign promise to create one million jobs through construction and tourism projects.

But many low-wage workers, who are at the mercy of Iran’s crisis, have no hope.

In another case that received a lot of attention last month, a 32-year-old teacher, facing catastrophic debt, hung himself in the southern city of Gerash after a bank refused to request a $ 200 loan.


Isabel DeBre, an Associated Press writer in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.